14 People You See When You Ride the Bus


First let me say that I greatly appreciate having access to a bus to get to work and around town.  However, with a 45 minute bus commute between home and work, when I’m too tired to be productive, I have some time to observe my fellow passengers.

Here are 14 people that I have identified on my bus ride. These labels are not mutually exclusive, so one person may embody several of them simultaneously. Now that’s something to see. Here we go.

#1 – The Talker – That person who sits or stands at the front of the bus and talks the driver to death and distraction. ‘Hey driver! You missed my stop!’

#2 – The Ashtray – Sorry smokers, but you guys really don’t know what you smell like. I’ll tell you. You smell like an ashtray.  ‘Damn. Why did this person sit next to me? Cough, cough. Let’s see. 45 minute bus ride. Packed bus with no other available seats. [Tries to hold breath.] Cough cough. Sigh.’

#3 – The Petri Dish – The sick person who gets into a sealed compartment full of people and insists on coughing and sneezing on everybody and everything. This person somehow thinks that the ‘stay-at-home-when-sick’ etiquette applies to everyone except her. ‘Nice. Yeah, don’t bother covering your mouth. We all want to share your virus.’

#4 – The Eco Professional – This person usually works in a creative or high tech field like web design, makes good money and owns a car, but takes the bus to spare the environment. In some cities with good public transit, it’s hip to take the bus when you don’t have to.

#5 – The College Student – The backpacks and mentions of ‘Professor’ are usually the giveaway.

#6 – The Mentally Ill / Homeless / Drug Addict – The person who is having a much harder time at life than you are, and it shows.

#7 – The Drama King / Queen – This person talks way too loudly or is always having an argument with another passenger or with their phone.

bus fight

#8 – The Rich Person -This is the random high powered professional who is  well-dressed and obviously well-off, likely owns multiple cars, and has absolutely no business on a public bus.  You might overhear them talking about their law practice or patients.

#9 – The Annoying PDA Couple – I think they purposefully target the most single looking person on the bus to sit in front of.  ‘OMG! Get a room already. Really?! Sigh.’

#10 – The Face Starer – This person refuses to sit facing the way that the seat is meant for him to face. He proceeds to stare at the people sitting behind or across from him depending on how  he has positioned himself.  ‘Why?’

#11 – The Couch Sitter  (often also the Face Starer, but not always) – The Couch Sitter sits lengthwise on the row of seats with his legs propped up, apparently without regard for the fact that this is called PUBLIC transit and that others might want a place to sit. ‘Go ahead. Put your feet up. Make yourself at home. That pregnant woman and her elderly grandma standing next to you enjoy exercising their calves during long bus rides.’

#12 – The Diner – The Diner pulls out a meal, complete with fork, and proceeds to enjoy dinner in the middle of a crowded bus. Listen, after a long day at work I’m tired and hungry too, but this is not an Amtrak dining car, so either eat before you get on the bus or hold out until you get home. We don’t want to smell your garlic spaghetti on an airtight bus.

#13 – The Backdoor Blocker – This person will get on the bus and stand in next to the back exit door when there are other empty seats available. Is he planning to jump off at the next stop? No. He just plans to stand there and force people to maneuver around him when they need to get off the bus.

#14 – Broke Debt Slaves and Other Poor People – We are the ones on our way to work or coming back from work. We often have long commutes and set up camp with a book or headphones. Otherwise we stare out of the window with a resigned look of quiet desperation in our eyes.

There you have it.  These are 14 types of people you’ll see on the bus.  Now sing along everybody! “The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all through the town.”

Hey, you bus surfers out there, did I forget anyone? Who would you add?


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)


  1. sparksaninterest · February 11, 2013

    I love your intellect. Riding transit sure tells you a lot about the world yeah?


  2. American Debt Project · February 19, 2013

    HA! I always get thrown off by the people who mad dog you. I’m thinking “Me? Is it me? Are they staring at me or something behind me?” meanwhile they continue to give me the stink eye and I try to avoid eye contact as much as possible. I still like riding the bus though. It saves money, but usually not time 🙂


  3. Jillian · November 11, 2020

    I was #14 on the train…fortunately I started working from home in 2018 and never looked back.


    • Double Debt Single Woman · November 21, 2020

      Congrats on WFH. I think it’s great. I’m not looking forward to having to go back to the office when the pandemic ends.


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